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The Fashion Industry; A pledge for Lifelong Learning

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Fashion Books in a pile.

Over the past 10 months while studying for my Masters degree in International Fashion Design Management I have followed a path exploring and researching into the history of Fashion Education, where it began, what it entailed so that I can begin to envisage a plan for its future.

When I entered the industry in around 2002, Fashion was a totally different industry to what it is today and although there was a distant rumbling of technology in the background, everything remained a master skill pretty much as the day it was created, skills which could only be learnt from an expert within the trade.

After a good decade within the industry I began to notice a change and a distinct skills gap arising, even from my generation at University there was a perceptible lack of training in new technologies and I was faced with having to self-teach myself the Adobe Suite by trial and error in my first year as a designer! (back then there were no such thing as online tutorials!! Especially not free!)

I made myself a promise right there and then that I would commit to lifelong learning – all in the name of Fashion!

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the industry today is unrecognisable, but over the past few years there has been a rapid rise in technology within the industry and the pace is only set to accelerate, the effects of Covid-19 have wreaked havoc on shopping as we know it – so what is instore for our future?

We all know that all industries are driven by the consumer, and Fashion is no different – they are the informant and the one that decides in which direction we will go and you really don’t have to go far to think about what is important to the customer – as you too are one!!

I am sure that we can all agree that our visions for the future lay within the categories below – and probably many more!

1. Sustainability/ Circularity and a Greener Planet – there is absolutely no better time to begin a circular model than whilst we are in a manufacturing freeze! It was the perfect opportunity to remodel and restructure – but I wonder how many manufacturers and retailers will have grasped the opportunity?!

2. The Digital Revolution P2 – The boom of digital revolution has most definitely arrived, as soon as lock down began, everyone turned to digital technology to support them through the times… even the 65+ age group saw a rise in the use of digital technology; from video calls to cloud based systems for sharing documentation and communicating effortlessly (and yes that includes in your PJ’s!)

3. 3D Software – There are so many companies now offering 3D software for the apparel industry, and as interest and competition grows, as does the quality and functionality of the software. 3D Software has so many benefits for the end users and with introduction of other technologies the possibilities are endless. Consider being able to create your own Personal Avatar with your own unique measurements and having the ability to try and clothes to ensure that they will fit without having to step foot in those dreaded fitting rooms! Now that is something that we can all live without! Not only is 3D software a benefit for us as the end user, but the benefits from a manufacturer/ retailer point of view are also favourable, promising reduced sampling time and cost saving AND an improved fit.

The lockdown offered me the opportunity to consider what I have learnt and where I believe apparel is leading us, and so I took the chance to use the time to commit to further lifelong learning skills!

I am currently learning Flex PLM from PTC which is a Product Lifecycle Management Software designed for retail, apparel and footwear sectors which all have incredibly complex product development processes requiring a unique system which can help organise the bulk of data and the whole supply chain in order to create a transparent and flowing process.

Already, I can see the benefits of using in industry as from a PD point of view, once all data is input into the system, there is little need to revisit this as there would be in manual methods of creating technical documents, massively reducing workload and replicating of data.

Screenshot of FlexPLM Product Lifecycle Management System

Above is an example of the simplicity of entering grade rule increments into a size chart which helps to automatically calculate your garment graded measurements. Every stage of your data entry is as simple and as organized, allowing you to easily gain access to the required information and where it is used/ duplicated.

Also, I have been learning CLO3D which is a virtual fashion design software, allowing you to create 2D and 3D garments simultaneously and simulate to create realistic garments on a 3D Avatar. CLO3D offers a free trial and fantastic free online training through their YouTube channel, but I loved the software so much that I have had to invest in a license!

I cannot speak for any other 3D software’s as CLO3D is the only one that I have personally tried, but the functionality that you get in CLO is just amazing. I have used Gerber Accumark 2D pattern software, so I am versed in 2D pattern cutting using digital software, but the simplicity and modernity of CLO is what really drew me in. The similarities to functions within Adobe make it a designers dream as you will get to grip with the software in no time! You can even draw straight onto the avatar using the 3D pen tool which will automatically generate your patterns for you in the 2D window. I can absolutely see that 3D software will be the future of Fashion Design as we know it, with so many possibilities to solve the many issues which we face in the supply chain today, such as sample lead-times and sizing to name only a few!

Above are a few images of the training and practicing I have been doing so far in CLO, I have just started adding in fabric and components so I guess the next stage is detail rendering and simulation!

So, to conclude please don’t ever give up learning! It really isn’t scary and is so exciting to open your eyes to the new technologies of the industry. In order to stay relevant it is something which all of us in the Fashion world must pledge to do!

See you on the other side!

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